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Brocade or Embroidery?

When embroidering with crude needles, such as the yucca leaf tip, it is much easier to push the needle through the fabric in the spaces between the intersections of the warp and weft rather than to pierce the fabric. This technique means that we cannot now distinguish between brocade and embroidery in the fragmentary record we have.

    Pre-contact Sewing
    Brocade or Embroidery?
    Other Pre-contact Evidence
        -Wall Paintings
        -Weaving Techniques

Supplemental weft float pattern weave fabric
from a site near Camp Verde
Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society.
     Brocade can be defined as a supplemental weft technique. Essentially, this is a weaving technique in which an extra, and not structurally necessary, decorative thread is laid in, weft-wise, during the weaving process. This thread can span the entire width of a fabric or an isolated area. It can be caught by every other warp thread, as a weft would be during the course of plain weave, or it can be caught by a sequence of warps so that it appears to be a type of float weave or twill; or it can be placed in, virtually at will and at random—in which case it becomes indistinguishable from embroidery. An additional confusion to this situation is due to the fact that Pueblo embroidery is very geometric in design. Brocade also lends itself to being executed in a geometric design. In many cases, the fragmentary evidence offers no solid evidence of which process was used.
Antique textile from burial caves in northern Mexico(c.1200).  In this instance a brocading technique was definitely used to create the design. All weaving elements have been spun from cotton.  The color scheme is blue and white.

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